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Quick Tuning Guide

Quick Overview

Tuning Tips in a Nutshell

  • Ever hit a patch of snow and stick like glue? Like treads in a tire, structure (stone ground patterns) in your base enhance performance. Keep the base waxed and the structure open (unclogged) and water will be moved away efficiently and keep you flying; if not the suction effect of water will slow you down. A stone ground base should be waxed a couple of times (minimum!) before you take it on the snow.
  • Apply brake retainers to hold brakes away from the work area.
  • Brush off dirt with a brush and reserve this brush for dirt (metal, for example brass, preferred, a steel brush is aggressive and should only be used by experienced tuners).
  • First prepare your edges.
  • If you have a multi-angle edge tool and don't know what angle your ski/board is set at before you start, mark the metal edge with a sharpie, start the tool at the lowest angle and see if it removes the marking on your edge. If not, increase the angle and repeat until it removes the mark; that is your bevel angle.
  • Base Edge. The amount of base edge bevel will affect the ability of the ski/board to engage a turn on the snow. The more base edge bevel, the easier it will be to pivot or slide from side to side. Most base bevels are set to 1.0 degrees. With a new pair of skis the non-race skier may wish to start with a 0.5 degree bevel, and if your edges are locking in to a turn too soon, you can move up to 0.75 or 1 degree. To go back to a lower bevel angle you have to resurface the base, so start with smaller angles and increase as needed. Once the base edge bevel is set, maintain (and racers should polish) it as long as possible using diamond, ceramic and gumi stones.
  • General Rule #1: Base Edge - Set it and forget it. Do not overwork the base edge. If you increase it above the intended angle, the only way to reset the bevel back to a lower angle is to do a base grind. Any minor roughness can be removed with fine diamonds; avoid filing unless you are resetting the bevel angle.
  • Side Edge. Side edge beveling will give the skis more grip on the snow surface. Higher angles should be reserved for experienced racers; if the angle is too high the ski can 'rail out' on a less experienced racer or light-weight skier. Typical angles are 1.0 to 3.0 (89 to 87) degrees. Less angle equals less grip. But an aggressive edge (high angle), may be more difficult for lighter racers to recover from being up on the edge. Most start at 89/1 degree and transition to 88/2 with skills. Advanced skiers, especially those skiing on icy hard-packed snow, should select an 87/3 degree side bevel.
  • After you set your edge angle bevels, use a 300-400 grit diamond stone to go over the edges one more time to smooth the file striations and further hone the edge. Read the section on Diamond Stone Care; the stone should be used wet.
    • You don't need to use the file again unless you change the angle or have edge damage. The stone will sharpen without severe metal removal. Sharpen your edges on a weekly basis by using the diamond stone on your side edge only. To repair severe edge damage you may need a 100 grit diamond stone.
  • After setting the side edge run the gummi stone down the edge (holding at a 45 degree angle) from tip to tail very lightly with no pressure to remove hanging burrs left by files/stones.
  • General Rule #2: Side Edge - Routine sharpening is achieved from the side edge only. As stated in Rule #1, don't touch the base edge unless it is necessary. Here as well, it is not necessary to repeatedly file your edges to sharpen, removing metal each time in the process. All it takes is 5 minutes to routinely sharpen with diamond stones followed by burr removal with a gummi stone and you're done. If at some point you feel to re-establish the edge, use a fine cut file.
  • I like to record the angle settings so I remember next time I tune; I usually write it in the under-the-foot area.
  • For a detailed discussion on this with pictures see the links at the top of this page.
  • Always start with the ski at room temperature; never start with a cold ski.
  • Drip on a warm-rated (red/yellow) hydrocarbon wax and scrape while hot to clean base and remove old wax (avoid chemical cleaners) - the more you do this (after each or every other time you ride) the faster your ski/board will get because you are infusing more wax into the base. This deep wax reservoir also provides greater protection for your base. Repeat until the wax comes up clean.
  • Then wax with what you intend to ski/board on. 
  • If you don't know the temperature to set the iron to, start at a low temperature and raise it until you have a 4-6 inch trail of melted wax behind the iron. Too short and the iron is too cool; too long and the iron is too hot. Never smoke the wax. See the Wax Charts for a good starting point.
  • Wax each ski for about 3 minutes.
  • Let the base cool to room temperature (slowly is best, do not put skis in the cold) Scrape off wax (this may take multiple passes). Sharp snow crystals will dig into wax and slow you down - you must get excess wax off.
  • Brush off excess wax from the base (a nylon will be fine to remove most wax from the structure or pattern in your base).
  • General Rule #3: You want wax in your base, not on your base.
  • You must remove excess wax. Think of structure like treads on a tire, they need to be open to move water out from your ski/board. This may not seem right at first, adding wax only to scrape it off, but remember this, you ski on your base - not wax, the wax lubricates and protects the base. If you have too much wax it could add drag (to learn more read the Structure Theory section).
  • If you have a horsehair brush, use it at this stage to remove wax from the fine structure of the base for a final polish.
Can I clean my board with chemical or citrus cleaners? AVOID using cleaners - use the hot-wax-scrape method to clean. Cleaners are not recommended by ski & board manufacturers. They dry the base out and it would take lots of waxings to get it right again. They dissolve the wax but inevitably leave residue as they evaporate. Use the hot wax scrape method to cleanse the base. Basically you are using a light wax, melting it and scraping while the wax is still liquid. It cleans and conditions in one step. Using this method and keeping the base waxed will make it faster with time. If you already own cleaners, don't throw them away, you can use it to clean scrapers, files and other tools.

Multi-Angle Ski and Snowboard Edge Tuner (RB-3503) SKS FK-Tools multi tool for ski and snowboard edge sharpening


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